Gertrude Brown, J34, J64P, and Claire Hirsch, J64
"Though demure she may be, there’s a twinkle in her eye,” reads the quote beside Gertrude Brown’s 1934 yearbook entry. Indeed, there’s a knowing arch to her brow.
Eighty years after Tufts, Brown, J34, J64P, still remembers all of the beaus and balls (“too many to count—in both instances!”), winning the Goddard Rhetorical Prize (“right out from under the noses of the drama and religion boys”), and having her one and only golf lesson on the Tufts course (it’s served her well: “I was once club champion and scored a hole-in-one”).
Brown also recalls sharing her lunch with the other Jackson girls in Richardson Hall during tough times. “Sometimes we would eat in the cafeteria, but it was so expensive,” she says. “The boys would get two slices of bread and put some ketchup in between.”
When she and her husband, Charlie, married, she says, “We were poor as church mice.” But every night after work Charlie went to Northeastern Law School, which at that time was held in four rooms of the YMCA on Huntington Ave. “One night in 1937, he walked home in the rain from Copley Square to our little apartment in Brookline—and neither of us realized it was a hurricane!”
Twist and Shout
Thirty years later, their daughter Claire Hirsch, J64, matriculated to Tufts. Hirsch remembers being in microbiology when President Kennedy was assassinated (coincidentally, Gertrude and Charlie first met at Kennedy’s grandfather’s former home in Roxbury on a humid Easter Sunday for a tennis date), and much happier times.
“We girls all learned the twist” in preparation for the Beatles’ heart-throbbing appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, she says. “A girl down the hall had a tiny black and white TV we all crowded around to scream and dance.” And though at first she hated climbing the Hill, “skipping down it became one of my favorite things.” While their memories are different, one thing’s the same: “It was just wonderful,” Brown says. She and Hirsch celebrated their 80th and 50th reunions, respectively, last May during Alumni Weekend. At 101, Brown still regularly golfs nine holes at the local course. “I just get up and go!”
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